The San Diego Film Critics Society spread the love around when choosing the best of films released in 2011. The SDFCS, of which I'm proud to be a member, voted The Artist the Best Film of 2011, but gave the Best Director award to Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive. And the group recognized the final film of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, in two categories, saying good-bye to the franchise by awarding it Best Ensemble and Best Score (Alexandre Desplat). The runners-up: Midnight in Paris and Hugo, respectively.
When it came to selecting the winners of the very competitive acting categories, San Diego critics looked outside the box (we have a history of marching to the beat of our own drummer), naming Brit Marling Best Actress for Another Earth (runner-up: Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene), Michael Shannon Best Actor for Take Shelter (runner-up: Brendan Gleeson, The Guard), and Nick Nolte Best Supporting Actor for Warrior (runner-up: Albert Brooks, Drive). Shailene Woodley's Best Supporting Actress award for her performance in The Descendants was the only one of acting wins that didn't go against the tide.
Project Nim was named Best Documentary, Le Quattro Volte was chosen as the Best Foreign Language Film, and the adorable holiday tale, Arthur Christmas, earned Best Animated Film honors. The Best Adapted Screenplay award went to Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin for Moneyball (runner-up: Hugo) with Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris named Best Original Screenplay (runner-up: Beginners).
Hugo won in the Best Production Design category (runners-up: The Tree of Life and Harry Potter). Beginners' Oliver Bugge Coutté won Best Editing (runners-up: Hugo and The Tree of Life) and Emmanuel Lubezki's work on The Tree of Life earned the Best Cinematography award (runner-up: Hugo).
(Poster © Warner Bros Pictures)